Title: Life's Soundtrack

Genre: Angst/Tragedy

Rating: PG-13 for mild violence, strong/inappropriate language, and distinct show of hate

Summary: High school. Anything and everything could lead to a catastrophe. About the downfall of a freshman, who constantly asks questions, but never gets the answered. "At first we blame each other, but then we blame ourselves."

Disclaimer: The songs used in this piece belong to the respected songwriters (listed at the end of the piece)

Inspired by the movie "American History X"

Why is there so much hate in this world? Are the things we fear, the things we don't understand? Or are we all just cruel people who hate for whatever reasons? Are those reasons reasonable? Or are they silly excuses to hate? Hate. What a strong word. The root to many problems of yesterday, today, and perhaps tomorrow, could be from three simple words. "I hate you." Will this cycle of hate ever end?

Questions constantly race through my head. Many of them have yet to be answered, and some may never be put to rest. It almost seems that no one ever tried to seek the simplest obvious questions…

The school bell rang, signaling that school had finished. It's too bad my friend didn't know I'd be walking home today. I was supposed to serve detention today, before I was told that I should just go home because I didn't look so well. I felt sick, and the pain in my left eye began to grow, once again, from what had happened yesterday. It had been like any other day. I got up, got washed up, got dressed, and grabbed something to eat, walked to school, went to scheduled classes, ate lunch, came home, did whatever, and went to bed. Yesterday was a different story.

The bell had just rung and all the people rushed out of class to get lunch. I was among the last people to get out of my 5th hour class, knowing that there's no use rushing to buy lunch, when they gave out free leftovers later. We had just finished getting our notebooks organized for our final exam, or at least most of the people did. The students who have passed every other test in the class, got waivers for the final, thus the result of not having to take the final. Who was among those people? Me.

I put my hair in a ponytail, before I put my headphones on. While doing this, I saw some people in my class stare at me, or more like glaring.

What do I do to ignore them behind me?

Do I follow my instincts blindly?

Why stare? It's not my fault the tests were easy, and they failed them. I just rolled my eyes at them and continued walking. I wasn't the one gawking at other people. I smirked at the thought.

"I still don't understand how a person like you, could get a waiver for the final in that stupid class," I heard a voice say behind me.

Do I hide my pride from these bad dreams?

And give into sad thoughts that are maddening?

I turned around, and came face to face with a person in my class. Little Miss Pretty-in-Pink coming to ruin the rest of my oh- so-fine day. I just looked at her, in the eyes. I subconsciously laughed to myself, seeing how much make-up she had on her face and the overuse of eye shadow and eyeliner. I could feel a smile growing on my face.

"And I still don't understand why clowns and raccoons, like you, are allowed in school."

I heard the expected grunt, so I just turned back around and walked on, turning the volume up on my CD player.

Do I sit here and try to stand it?

Or do I try to catch them red-handed?

Why do people think they can make someone feel bad by ridiculing something that doesn't mean anything to them? Who cares about what people think of me? I don't, as long as they don't go too far.

Do I trust some and get fooled by phoniness?

Or do I trust nobody and live in loneliness?

I can't believe she hasn't come after me yet. I would figure she'd bring her little prissy squad and have them hit me with their tiny purses. Ha, what a joke. As if they could hurt me. Right then, I felt something yank on my book bag and pulled me off my course.

Because I can't hold on when I'm stretched so thin

I make the right moves but I'm lost within

My legs dangled, and I noticed that I was at least a couple of inches off the ground. I could feel my book bag starting to rip from my weight, and the bruises I've had began to hurt. I looked up and saw a big guy. I didn't recognize him now, until I heard the shrilly voice that was behind him.

"No one insults me, then leaves when I'm talking to them without getting hurt, 'kusho," the prissy from a few minutes ago said.

Ugh, and to think she knows my nickname. Hmm, so if that's her right there, then the guy must be…

"This is Derek, my boyfriend. He's two years older than you, and I'm sure he'll crush you like a bug." The last thing she said sounded too sinister. I didn't think I'd get out of this alive. I saw her wrap her hands around his free arm.

I put my daily façade but then

I just end up getting hurt ag—

The big guy grabbed my CD player and hurled it across the sidewalk. I saw my CD player smash into pieces on the ground, the pair of batteries fly up into the air, and my CD shattered into tiny, shiny pieces. Music. An everyday need. Though my player was gone, the music still plays in my head.

"Hey, I spent a lot of money on that!"

He slammed me into the wall, and dropped me. I fell on my back, with a little support from my book bag. I tried pulling myself back up, before I was pushed back down by his huge foot.

"Where do you think you're going, smart-ass freak?" He had his foot on my waist. He started adding force, and I could feel my breath getting shorter.

"Is this what I get for passing that one stupid class?" I managed to mumble out.

"No, this is for passing any of your classes. This is for being the freak, you are." With each sentence, I was crushed harder into the ground, and by now, a lot of people were around us.

"And this is for badmouthing my girlfriend." He picked me up and punched me, square in the face.

I remember waking up at the clinic, with my mom, talking indistinctly to the principal. Knowing how that girl tells her sides of what happened, I'm probably blamed for everything that happened. My mom looked at me, and I didn't like the look on her face.

"You can walk home on your own," and with that, she left.

"Fine, just leave! Maybe I won't come home at all!" The principal gave me a look. "What?"

"Is anything going on at home that I should know about?" The principal had a stern, yet solemn look on his round face.

"No, and why should you care anyway." I glared at him, but stopped when the pain in my left eye worsened. "Look, school's out just about out, right?" I looked for a clock in the room.

"You still have your last class to go to, Miss Kakusho."

Damn it. It's bad enough that I'm hurt, but he's making me go back to class, like this? Stupid eye. I bet the whole school knows about this stupid happening. I slid off the bed and grabbed what was left of my belongings. I stumbled a couple of times, from the lack of balance. I guess I was still light-headed from the whole situation earlier.

"And I'll see you after school when you serve your detention." He handed me a pink slip.

"What?! Mr. Daniels, with all do respect, I did not start that fight. And, I obviously didn't lay a finger on that guy. The guy is huge, and I'm…not so huge."

"I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to go by what the student body has told me."

"What did they tell you exactly—wait, don't answer that. I don't want to know. Just forget it. I'll come and serve that stupid detention." I snatched the paper away from him, and began to walk out.

"And then another detention for tomorrow, too."

"What?!" I turned back around and stood in the doorway. "For what?"

"For saying 'stupid.'" He crossed his arms.

"But, it's high school. People say words worse than 'stupid.'" I could not believe this argument was even going on. I swear the guy hates me.

"You get another one for talking back and showing disrespect to a school administrator. Keep on going, and earn yourself some more detentions. I don't want to give this many detentions to a bright person like you, but if you keep this up, you'll find yourself here, after school, everyday, for the rest of the year." I saw a smirk on his face. I wanted to just walk over to him and wipe it right off. Instead of doing that and earning probably a year's worth of detentions, I left, and headed for the last class of the day. The principal can go to hell. Everyone can go to hell. Why am I the only one seems to be hated? We're all people, aren't we?

I had my hand on the doorknob, ready to enter the classroom, before I realized I didn't have a tardy pass. My next idea…to sneak in and hope I don't get caught. I slowly entered the room, grabbing the attention of a few people. The teacher's back was facing, as he wrote some equations on the whiteboard, so I made my way to my seat, and thought I was home free before I heard the annoying shrilly voice I thought I had enough of.

"Mr. Perkins, I thought you had no-tolerance for tardiness," the girl said, interrupting the math teacher's lesson.

"Yes, and I am well aware of the fact that Miss Kakusho has just walked in. I'm sure she has a very good reason why, and she will tell me about it before she leaves." He looked at me then went back to teaching.

I glowered at the girl, as she looked back at me, smiling. Throughout the whole class, I sat in pain; not concentrating on anything Mr. Perkins had to say. Every once in a while, I would hear the occasional unusual words "foci" or "hyperbola" but other than that, my mind was off in la-la land, where my questions constantly asked and where music was constantly played and heard.

Sooner than expected, class was over. Mr. Perkins assigned the review homework problems and then called me to his desk. Man, I hoped this wasn't another detention.

"Since you missed the beginning of class—"

"I was in the clinic—" I interrupted, thinking I was in trouble. Boy, was I wrong.

"Yes, I know. I was informed of what happened, but that's not what I was getting to. The year is ending, and I just wanted to say how fortunate I am to have you in my class. You have the highest score in this class, and you are one of the top students out of all my classes. You're a good kid, Kylie. But, I couldn't help but notice your attitude change. Is anything bothering you?"

Oh great, not this whole 'I want to help make things better' talk.

"Nope, nothing at all." I had to lie. What I'm going through is beyond repair. School is only a hiding place, and even with that, it's starting to look like—feel like home.

"All right," From what I could see, he looked disappointed. But, I'm sure I did the right thing in not telling what was going on. I hope I'm not sending out any bad vibes.

"Hey, 'kusho. What happened? I heard what happened, but it's just so hard to believe." I turned around. It was my friend, Alex. She was the only person who knew about the situation at home. Sometimes I wish my family was like hers, a mom and dad who're loving and caring, and she even has an older brother. To me, it was a perfect family. I, on the other hand, have a dysfunctional family.

"Well, what you probably heard is probably 'right' no matter who told you." I really hoped there weren't any rumors or misconceptions out about the whole fight.

"Oh, so you did punch the guy, and knocked him out cold," she said to me. I slapped my head, which emit a painful surge around my eye. If it were anything, rumors were the worst things to get information by.

"No, I didn't. I was the one who got punched and got knocked out." I crossed my arms, and walked back to my desk to pack everything up.

"Oh. Thought so, cause you got a nice shiner from it." Alex gestured just about where it was and how big it was.

"Great," I said, covering my eye, "I can't believe I'm getting punished for this."

"Wait, you got punched, by a guy, and you're getting punished?" Alex had the most disgusted look on her face. "That's not right."

"No kidding. A detention." I held up the slip.

"Shit, you've got to be kidding me."

"Nope, and I got a few more for stupid things, so I might not walk home with you all this week."

"That sucks. I guess I'll just ask my brother to pick me up this week." She looked at me then looked down at her feet. "What about your dad? What do you think he'll do after he finds out you got in trouble?"

"He probably already knows. Gosh, I hate my life at this point! Ouch." I clutched my stomach, and fell to the ground.

"Is that bruise still there?" Alex knelt down. I felt her hand over my shoulder.

"Probably. And I think the guy made it worse."

"Kylie, listen. You've got to tell someone. Getting beat up in school doesn't happen everyday. But, getting beat up regularly, especially at home, is not normal."

I looked at her, and nodded. She was right. That drunk needs to get out of the house. And to think that mom is still with him. Yuck!

"Do you want me to ask my mom if you can stay with us for a few days?"

"Nah. I'll be fine. Trust me."

The bell rang, and everyone rushed out of class. Alex got up and grabbed her things. "I'll call you tonight."

I simply waved, nodded and made way to serve my detention. This was so stupid. I walked into the room and saw no one in any of the desks. I was starting to think that it wouldn't be that bad.

You know the feeling you get when you're released out of a tormenting class? You know, the feeling of relief, joy, and excitement? I felt like that when I finally got out of the two hours of boring ole detention. Now I'm on my way to the place I call the hellhole, my house. I took a glance at my watch.

"6:01." I looked up at the reddish-purple sky, and then to the road where I saw bright lights from the car headlights. The streets were barer than usual. I wonder how dad will react if I just walked into the house.

"Probably 'why the hell are you coming home this late,' and then a smack across the face," I muttered sullenly to myself.

I stood in front of my house, looking at the empty driveway. He's probably still at the bar or something. Walking towards the back of my house, I looked through some of the windows to make sure the house was empty. Through one of the windows, I saw my mom sleeping on the couch.

"Great, she's home. Let's see if I can make it in without a lecture about today," I whispered aloud.

I unlocked the door, and made way to my room, grabbing the phone on the way. Dialing the number of my friend, I heard a car pull up onto the driveway.

"Shit," I said, before I noticed someone had picked up the phone.

"Uh…" I heard the person say.

"Alex, it's just me. Sorry, my dad just pulled in." I recognized her use of uneasy expressions. I peered out the window, and saw a yellow taxi pull out. He probably left his car at the bar, so he doesn't get caught for drinking and driving. I turned my attention back to my friend.

"I thought so," she said. "I thought I said I would call you."

"You did, didn't you? I guess I was just really anxious to talk to someone, after two hours of not talking."

She laughed. "So, how was detention?" Alex asked.

"Boring as hell—" I started before I heard a phone pick up.

"Kylie, get off the phone now." My dad. And, as usual, he sounded drunk. The other phone clicked off.

"You heard him, Alex. Sorry, but I'll call you back."

"Okay, bye."

"Bye." With that, I hung up. I knew I would have to face him sooner or later. Why not face him now and get it over with? I opened my room door, and saw my dad standing right in front of me. "Uh, welcome home?"

He was drunk, just as he sounded on the phone; I could just smell it. His actions, on the other hand, were unusual. He didn't hit me yet, and I was planning on keeping it that way, so slid by and put the phone back.

"What the hell happened to your eye?" I froze in place and looked at him.

"Um, what are you talking about? Nothing's wrong with my eye. Are you seeing things?" I played dumb. I didn't know how drunk he was, but if he was drunk enough, I might have gotten away with it. Wrong theory.

"Don't play dumb with me, young lady! I know I see a black eye, and I want an explanation of how you got it!" He approached me, stumbling every few steps.

Shit, come on, mom. Wake up. Then you can see, what the hell he does to me when you're not home, I thought to myself. I ran back to my room, and locked the door. He banged his fists against the door. I was terrified. Mom needed to get up to see this. Then, it hit me. Music. It reflects the thoughts I have. I turned my boom box on and turned the volume up.

Hey dad look at me, think back and talk to me

Did I grow up according to plan?

Do you think I'm wasting my time doing things I wanna do?

'Cuz it hurts when you disapprove all along

I gave myself a pat on the back. I put my CDs back, as my music overtook the pounding and yelling made by my dad. Soon, all that stopped and all that was heard was the song I was playing.

And now I try hard to make it, I just want to make you proud

I'm never gonna be good enough for you

I can't pretend that I'm alright and you can't change me

I pressed my ear against the door to see if anything was going on. Loudest thing I heard, other than the song, was my mom's yelling.

"You do not treat our daughter like that. Just get out of the house, and stay out," was what I caught from my mom. My dad's reply seemed to surprise me.

"That brat is not my daughter. She's never done anything right in the past few months, and I doubt she will. If you wanna back her up, that's fine, but don't come running back to me if anything happens."

'Cuz we lost it all, nothing lasts forever

I'm sorry I can't be perfect

Now it's just too late and we can't go back

I'm sorry I can't be perfect

I unlocked the door and looked to see my dad walking out of the house. I guess this meant a divorce. Oh well, as long as I don't have to see him again. I stuck my tongue out at him as the door closed. My mom rushed to the door to lock it and then looked at me. Almost immediately, I closed the door, turned the CD off, and grabbed a magazine. As expected, there was a knock on the door.

"What do you want?" I said, coldly, as I flipped through the magazine, not bothering to open the door. Even if she did run dad out of the house, it doesn't mean I'm going forgive her for what she did earlier today. I'm not a very forgiving person.

"How long has this been going on?" Her voice had the tone of fear and concern in it; it's been a while since I've heard this.

"A while," I simply answered. I turned around and looked at the door. The doorknob turned ever so slightly, before the lock stopped it from turning anymore.

"Kylie, may I please come in?" My mom's voice was now full of sadness. It's been some time when I've heard this tone also. It felt kind of strange to listen to my mom going through the same emotions I go through almost everyday, and it's weird that she actually wants to talk to me.

I unlocked the door and opened it enough so I can stick my head out. I looked at my mom. The paths of wet tears could be seen, running down her cheeks, and fall slowly to the floor. Widening the door, I never took my eyes off my mom. It's hard to look at her in this state, but my eyes never left hers. I slowly lifted my shirt, just high enough to show her the bruises I've had. Then, I turned around to show her the bruises on my back. A gasp escaped my mom's mouth. I looked down at the bruises on my waist and ran the back of my hand against my back only to feel pain and some of the swelled bruises.

"They used to be worse, but now they're getting better," I said softly, trying to be as comforting as possible.

Her only response was to wrap her arms around me, embracing me in a hug. It didn't even take me a second to notice that I was still loved, even in times like these.

Yes, most definitely yesterday was different. School was still a matter, but I managed to survive today. Miss Bitch and her boyfriend didn't bother me today. But, yesterday's occurrence seemed to faze a lot of people, and now they all have a nasty grudge against me. Why is it that people judge people through first impressions? And why is it that people always believe rumors? I didn't do anything wrong, and yet they fear me as if I'm going to attack them at any moment. What has the world come to? And to think, I'm going to have to live with this for the rest of high school. What a great thing to look forward to. Being a freshman sucks.

I slowly made my way to the roadside. I wasn't used to the sounds of cars and trucks, zooming passed me, since I didn't have a CD player to listen to. Then, I remembered that I never called Alex back. That's probably why she wasn't as social today. I've never gone back on my word, until yesterday. I'll have to call her when I get home and apologize. I subconsciously played songs in my head. Then, the questions and thoughts came back.

I wonder what mom will do now. Are we going to move into an apartment now that it's just the two of us? How will I know dad won't come back? Some of the questions I asked gave me reason to expect the worst. But, on a lighter note, I'm glad mom was home yesterday. If she weren't, dad would've gotten me again, and who knows how much more beating I would get.

I turned the curb into an alley Alex and I always passed through. In front of me, I saw a group of boys, probably 7th graders. They were grouped into a circle. I couldn't help thinking what they were doing. I walked passed them and overheard their conversation.

"So are we gonna get him today?" one of them asked.

"If he walks down this way, we'll get him today," another answered.

"Did you bring it?" another one asked.

I tried very hard not to ponder on what they were going to do. It wasn't my business to know. I continued walking before a boy around their age ran passed me. Soon after that, another boy ran ahead of me. And before I knew it, the whole group was ganging up on the poor guy.

"Hurry, get him!" a boy yelled from behind the two fighting boys.

I couldn't let the boy get hurt so I ran up to them. I didn't expect this to be more than a mere fistfight, but it was. There I stood, looking at the gun in one of the boy's hands, pointing directly to the helpless kid held down by the other group members. I slowly approached the boy with the gun.

"Are you sure you want to do that?" I asked, thinking of how I was going to handle this. I stayed a good distance away from the group.

"What's it to you?" he asked, scowling.

"What you're doing is wrong." I thought some more on how to get him to stop. I looked down at the boy on the ground. Like my mom from last night, the boy was overwhelmed with tears.

"Why are you doing this to him?"

"He was teasing me. Beating me up and shit. He thought I was a weak jerk, but now look…" he glanced at the boy before he continued, "…I'm no weakling. You don't know what it feels like to be pushed around."

Hearing this just made me go back to yesterday. Sure, I was beat up, but I never thought of hurting him back.

"Actually I do." I pointed to my black eye. "That's how I got this. Besides, killing him isn't going to make things any better. For all I know, you'll probably get arrested for homicide. Now to me, that's worse than getting beat up." I narrowed my eyes and looked at him.

"Well, you're a girl. You're supposed to be weak and think that killing is wrong," the boy retorted.

"Weak?" My blood started to boil. "You don't want to mess with me." I shot a glare at him.

The boy with the gun hesitated and looked at his friends, then at the boy on the ground. He lowered the gun.

I sighed and said, "Now hand me the gun, and we can all go home as if nothing happened." Of course, I didn't know what to do with the gun, but at least this wouldn't be able to happen again.

He looked at his friends, as they nodded, then looked at me.

"You know what?" the boy asked as he smirked.

"What?" I asked suspiciously as he slowly approached me, gun in hand. I couldn't see whether his finger was on the trigger or not. I started to back away.

"I hate people…" he brought the gun up, "…who interfere." With that, he pulled the trigger.

As I fell to the ground, I could hear a few more gunshots, and with every shot sound, my body grew numb. I heard rushing footsteps, scurrying off in different directions. My hands shakily made its way to my waist. I felt something warm and runny, and there was a lot of it. I looked at my hands and saw blood, dripping from my fingertips. My breath grew shorter, and all thoughts came to me, all at once. The songs came back to me, mixed and distorted in my head, jumbled into one song, my last song.

I feel like this won't go away

No matter how hard I try to

Squeeze my eyes shut so I can't see

The pain in you, this pain in me—in me

Why is it that some people don't play by the rules? Life is a game and I lost, against some kid filled with hate, who cheated on the same game I played. Why can't anyone see all this? Are people that ignorant? And I can see that the kid, who I tried to save, left. I can hear my conscience laughing at me for such an act.

As darkness quickly steals the light

That shined within her eyes

She slowly swallows all her fears

And soothes her mind with lies

My eyes can no longer see what they used to see. They now see the truth. Truth lies within us, and outside of us are lies. My ears can no longer hear anything, but my internal music and my thoughts, which soothes me so. All this can be blamed on anyone, but in the end, I blame myself. I should've known better than to get myself caught up in this. And now I'm dying for what I thought was right. I laugh at myself for my stupidity.

Goodbye, everybody, I've got to go

Gotta leave you all behind and face the truth

Mama, ooh, I don't wanna die

I sometimes wish I'd never been born at all

In the end, I have become my own enemy, beating myself up for every flaw I've had. To every life, there is an end. Unfortunately, mine had to end too soon. Everything I've worked for is going down the drain. My minimal amount of friends, my family, my own world crumbles. In the end, nothing is worth fighting for. And, I leave with this. Fuck this world of hate.

So am I still waiting

For this world to stop hating

Can't find a good reason

Can't find hope to believe in—

So, I ask again. Why is there so much hate in this world? Hate, a four-letter word that can do so much damage to a person. Hate, brought about by our fears and misunderstandings. We are all humans, who make mistakes, who show emotions, who can do virtually anything if they tried, who have the power of dialogue, so what's with all the hate? Will life seem better if some people take differences more leniently? Do you think people should cut the word "hate" from their vocabulary to see what changes they may see in the world? Hate. We live in a world where only hate is shown globally. Through music, movies, television, schools, it's everywhere. Doesn't that worry you? As today's youth, we have the power to change. Ghandi once said, "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." What can we do to make this place a better place?

"The important thing is to not stop questioning." -Albert Einstein

Credits go to:

Lyrics from: "By Myself" by Linkin Park

"Perfect" by Simple Plan

"Take It" by StainD

"Paradise" by Vanessa Carlton

"Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen

"Still Waiting" by Sum41